Tech Tuesday #9: Oh, crap!

Another Tech Tuesday, where we answer reader questions!

TechTuesdays from Charland Technology

Sharon from Lunenburg asks….

Q: Oh, crap!

Which is not really a question per se. So we followed up.

Q: My work computer won’t start!

A: Still not a question. We press on.

Q: My system doesn’t start. It comes up with a black screen that says, “BOOT DEVICE MISSING.” What’s wrong? And by the way, I last backed up about three months ago.

A. It could be something simple, like a flash drive plugged in or a DVD left in a drive. Make sure there are no usb connectors hooked up, and no discs in a drive.

If that’s not the case, there’s a small chance there’s a configuration problem keeping the computer from recognizing the hard drive. Sometimes we can attach the drive to another system to fix data errors. Ideally the hard drive will just attach and Windows will identify and correct file system damage.

Less-than-ideally the hard drive will attach, Windows will say something witty, like, “The disk in drive G: is not formatted. Do you want to format it now?”

Don’t format it. We have tools that can often recover files even if Windows can’t see them. We have had good results with Runtime’s GetDataBack recovery products.

On the other hand, there are some drives you just can’t get to. Either they won’t show up at all…or they’ll make a tell-tale sound of hard drive death


Many “tech guys” will tell you it’s toast and there’s no possible way to save files from a disk that’s dead. They’re not entirely correct. It’s often possible to recover stuff from a disk that’s physically damaged or failing.

If your hard drive is making clicking or grinding sounds, using software MAY be able to retrieve some files but will reduce the chance of successful professional recovery.

For that we’ll need a cleanroom.

No, not THAT kind of clean.

That’s better. A professional service company like Kroll/Ontrack, DriveSavers, or Gillware will take apart your hard drive in a dust-free environment, replace broken pieces, and copy the data onto another disk.

Cost varies from around $500 to over $2,000 depending on:

  • How quickly it gets done
  • How big your disk is
  • If there’s anything special like encryption, it’s linux, mac, etc
  • Which provider you use

For that kind of money it’s usually not worth recovering the kids’ school projects. But for a master’s thesis…the only copy of your Quickbooks file…wedding pictures….the external hard drive that has 15 years’ worth of family pictures…

it just might be worth it.

Remember, though, that all of this could have been avoided with a simple backup.

Got questions? Send them to CharlandTech via Facebook, post as a comment on this article, Tweet ‘em to @gregc00 or @CharlandTech, or find another creative way to get them to us.

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